As the school year comes to a close across the country, marking the end of a difficult transition period for many students who had to return to the classroom after months of distance learning, racist encounters in classrooms have continued to peak.
One such instance pertains to 14-year-old twins Emzayia and Zyeshauwne Feazell, in Spokane, Washington, who say they were subjugated to humiliation after their social studies teacher required their class to clean cotton for a class project while learning about the cotton gin.
Administration officials have launched an investigation into the matter which occurred at Sacajawea Middle School on May 3.
“I was shocked that a teacher would bring a box of cotton into a class and tell them to pick it clean so she could teach us how slaves were back then,” Emzayia told KXLY.
The girls went home that day defeated and reported their experience to their mother Brandi Feazell who sprung into action immediately.
Brandi told the outlet that after she scheduled a meeting with the school’s assistant principal to discuss her concerns, her concerns only grew larger.
Brandi claims the assistant principal Taylor Skidmore, suggested that the girls be “segregated” from the other students. She said she felt Skidmore downplayed her complaint and incredulously defended the actions of the teacher. Instead, Brandi withdrew her children from the school in order to preserve what sense of peace they had left.
“They’re trying to be strong,” Brandi said. “They really are but you can see the pain and as a parent it hurts.”
In response to the controversy, school officials released a statement saying the following:
“Spokane Public Schools recently received a complaint regarding a classroom lesson on the Industrial Revolution at Sacajawea Middle School. Upon receiving the complaint, SPS promptly solicited a third-party investigator to fully understand the situation. We will share the investigation’s findings as soon as they are available. SPS is committed to transparency, as well as making sure all our students, families, and staff feel supported and heard.”
District officials told KXYL that they will comment further once the findings of the investigation are complete. A third-party investigator was hired to make conclusions.
While the school has since offered an apology to the twins, Brandi is advocating for a public apology and has reached out to local civil rights groups like the ACLU, to help spread more awareness about the case.
“They need some serious education for the teachers to understand how to deliver these educational tools to the children in a manner that is respectful,” Brandi said.
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